Trick or Treat; Occupy Movement Needs to Focus

1 11 2011

Yesterday was All Hallows Eve.

The culmination of seemingly weeks of haunted happenings and a continual festival of pumpkin-themed events combined with a vague threat of mischief enacted out by children with the full support of their parent/guardian.

Or Halloween as the marketing department of Hallmark and the National Association of Pumpkin Growers refer to it.

Across the world, gangs of children dressed up in costumes that ranged from the cute (princesses, Disney characters, some sort of furry creature) to the fashionable (Captain America, Wolverine, Lady Gaga) with the odd dash of terrifying (Ghostface from Scream, Jason, Wall Street Banker).

And in the gathering dusk of October 31 2011, they roamed neighborhoods. No longer bothering to say “trick or treat”, they just expected that candy would be given to them for doing nothing else apart from taking part in an annual costume parade.

And the kids in my neighborhood seemed to be very successful at the gathering of treats with no need for tricks.

But for the unwary adult, there was danger in assuming that there were no surprises to be found on the streets. Especially if you weren’t paying attention.

And I wasn’t. Which is why I trod in dog excrement twice in the space of a matter of hours, in two different pairs of shoes.

And for some reason, my first instinct wasn’t to blame Fido but the irresponsible manner in which the human in change of the animal had allowed this mess to be left on the pavement for someone else to either step into or clear up.

Which, in a seemingly unconnected way, is exactly how I feel about the financial situation that is happening all over the world. From the shores of the Ionian Sea to the concrete jungles of Manhattan, those in charge have done nothing but leave a huge pile of crap for someone else to deal with. A steaming pile of irresponsibility which gets stuck in the groves of your shoes and makes you wish that you had paid attention to where your were putting your feet.

Of course, we all know about the bailouts and the continued wailing of those who claim that they have done nothing wrong. We can see the shuttered businesses and the foreclosed homes. The fragile nature of the markets and the imperfections of the system. The failure of the authorities to take the proper steps to address the obvious flaws in the foundations of society while still seeming to reward those who took risks with the lives of others.

This is not a call to arms and it is not a desire for anarchy. Both are not what is required at the moment.

What we need is some sort of positive action to get the system working for the benefit of the majority and not the minority. The first steps have begun with the Occupy Movement which has gained headlines across the USA and now has satellite operations spreading through Europe and other Western “democracies” – it is very noticeable that the Middle East has not jumped on the Occupy bandwagon, perhaps because the word means something else to them…

I applaud the individuals who are taking the time  to protest by living in tents and being forced to listen to bongos 24/7. I admire their decision to make a stand against the obvious inequalities in society and to try to make those who have done the damage aware of the consequences of their irresponsible financial gambling. But the problem is that some weeks in, there still doesn’t seem to be a focus.

The message coming out of Occupy is that they have no message. And that isn’t good enough.

The impression is that rather than come up with a manifesto for change that could result in criminal charges or even regulatory changes, the protesters are just occupying areas of prime real estate or parks. Just a series of camps, with no sanitary facilities and a seemingly haphazard attitude to food preparation. A protest that relies on amusing soundbites written on pieces of cardboard to get attention.

With occasional nudity and police provocation to liven up the boredom of sitting outside a tent.

Citizen protests are an essential part of a successful democracy, they show that there are some people paying attention. But they need focus. Protest needs to have a direction and, at the moment, Occupy doesn’t seem to have one.

All they are doing is pointing a finger at the people who left the shit on the street and couldn’t care who trod in it next. Because the excrement was never going to be on their shoes, just the unwary individual who wasn’t paying attention. Tricks with no chance of Treats.

Irresponsibility with little possibility of accountability. And that is what we should be trying to fix.

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